Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, left, and Alexis Galarneau speak while on break of play against Russia’s Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev during Men’s National Bank Open doubles tennis action in Toronto on Monday, Aug., 9, 2021. Auger-Aliassime and Galarneaufell 6-4, 7-6 (6) to Khachanov and Rublev.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, left, and Alexis Galarneau speak while on break of play against Russia’s Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev during Men’s National Bank Open doubles tennis action in Toronto on Monday, Aug., 9, 2021. Auger-Aliassime and Galarneaufell 6-4, 7-6 (6) to Khachanov and Rublev.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Canada’s Rebecca Marino beats American Madison Keys for upset victory

Marino will face No. 31 Paula Badoa of Spain next

Canada’s Rebecca Marino pulled off her biggest win since returning to tennis, upsetting World No. 26 Madison Keys of the United States in straight sets on Monday at the National Bank Open.

The 30-year-old Marino — ranked 220th in the world — topped the 16th-seeded Keys 6-3, 6-3 in Montreal to reach the second round at the Canadian tournament for the first time in her career.

It’s just her third career win over a top-30 player and first since 2011 when she beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, ranked 15th at the time, at the Luxembourg Open.

“I don’t even know where to begin, this one means a lot,” Marino said of the victory. “It’s been a long journey back, not only coming out of retirement but a big injury (in) 2019.

“I knew this (tournament) would be a really good chance to sneak up on some players.”

Marino will face No. 31 Paula Badoa of Spain next.

The Vancouver native is in the midst of what she calls the second chapter in her career following numerous setbacks that derailed the one-time WTA top-40 player.

Marino took almost five years off from tennis shortly after the 2013 Australian Open, leaving the sport at 22 citing battles with depression.

She worked on her physical and mental well-being during her time away and returned to tennis in late 2017, but her comeback was hampered by a severe foot injury. She didn’t play a competitive match from July 2019 to January 2021. During that time, Marino’s father, Joe, died of cancer at age 59.

Marino had a promising start to the 2021 season by winning the Australian Open qualifying tournament in January, and returned to her first Grand Slam event in eight years in February.

“I think it’s evident by the way I’m playing that I think it was the right decision to step away from the game,” said Marino.

“It made me rediscover my passion and love for the sport. And I think it also shows I’m in a completely different head space.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come to where I am right now.”

Meanwhile, Canadian Vasek Pospisil, ranked 61st in the world, was halfway to the second round before falling to 56th-ranked Tommy Paul of the United States in three sets.

The 24-year-old qualifier took the match in Toronto 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 in two hours 21 minutes.

Up next for Paul is 10th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who has a first-round bye.

Also, Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., was ousted in Montreal in the evening session by Britain’s Harriet Dart.

Dart toppled Fernandez 7-5, 7-6 (4) to set up a second-round date with second-seeded Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who is the defending champion on the women’s side.

“She played a good match. I, unfortunately, did not,” said Fernandez.

“I made one too many mistakes on key moments. I had many opportunities that I didn’t take advantage of.”

The tournament, formerly known as the Rogers Cup, was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tennis Canada is allowing 5,000 fans this year for each of the day and night sessions at centre court in Montreal, and 4,500 per session in Toronto.

Earlier, 19-year-old American Amanda Anisimova advanced to the second round of the women’s tournament after her opponent, Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic, retired with Anisimova leading 6-1, 4-3.

Anisimova said she feels like she is in a groove after advancing to the main draw in Montreal through the qualifying tournament.

“I think it was good that I got a couple matches in (qualifiers),” she said. “I have a couple matches to back me up and give me some confidence in the main draw.”

In another early match at centre court, Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic convincingly defeated world No. 29 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-1, 6-3.

In other matches in Montreal, 11th-seed Maria Sakkari of Greece advanced when Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic retired. Sakkari was up 6-4, 3-1 at the time.

“Well, you know, it was a little bit — it was shocking when I walked on the court and there was a crowd,” Sakkari said. “I haven’t seen that since Roland Garros. That was a very nice thing.”

France’s Oceane Dodin upset 14th seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 1-6, 6-2, and 13th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia downed Clara Burel of France 6-1, 6-3.

Romania’s Sorana Cirstea beat American Alison Riske, Nadia Podoroska of Argentina beat Magda Linette of Poland, Spain’s Paula Badosa downed Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland and Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia advanced when opponent Fiona Ferro of France retired.

In the men’s tournament, Marin Cilic of Croatia fired 13 aces in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas, while Ugo Humbert of France beat Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 6-3, 6-4.

Italy’s Fabio Fognini beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets, while Australian qualifier James Duckworth downed Taylor Fritz of the United States in straight sets. Also, American Reilly Opelka got by Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in three sets after dropping the first.

Qualifier Brayden Schnur of Pickering, Ont., the first Canadian in main-draw action, lost 6-3, 6-2 to South Africa’s Lloyd Harris.

In doubles action, Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexis Galarneau of Laval, Que., fell 6-4, 7-6 (6) to Russians Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.

“I thought we played a good match, to be honest,” Auger-Aliassime said. “You know, they played good in the first set. We did small mistakes.

“Then the second set it was really unlucky. We missed some crazy shots in the tiebreak that we shouldn’t have, but that’s how it goes. It happens.”

Auger-Aliassime will play his first singles match Wednesday after getting a first-round bye.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2021.

Tennis